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New Subaru Ascent Limited Checks All The Right Boxes But One

The 2020 Subaru Ascent family hauler in its second year of production gets new features, but there’s one upgrade the Limited model is missing.

The 2020 Subaru Ascent 3-Row vehicle is in its second year after making a big splash two years ago. Subaru customers asked for a larger SUV and the Japanese automaker listened by replacing the aging Tribeca. SUV shoppers have been snatching up the new family hauler in big numbers before the COVID-19 health care crisis hit the U.S. market.

The Ascent is available in 7-or 8 passenger configuration and offers up Subaru’s standard all-wheel-drive and the brand’s “go-anywhere” attitude with 8.7-inches of ground clearance for active families wanting to get away from civilization.

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The new Ascent gets the highest safety ratings, is designed for city commutes and adventures in the high-country for exploring outdoors.

2020 Subaru Ascent, New Subaru SUV, 3-Row SUV, features, specifications, fuel mileageThis week we drive the 2020 Subaru Ascent Limited trim level

What’s new for 2020?

New models in their second year of production generally get few improvements, and the Ascent follows in that pattern. The Subaru Ascent adds a standard rear-seat reminder alert system and power-folding side mirrors for the 2020 model year change.

Features & Options

The 2020 Subaru Ascent Limited ($39,345) comes standard with three-zone climate control and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, fog lights, auto-dimming mirror, and second-row sunshade. All-wheel drive also comes standard across the lineup as does Subaru's EyeSight driver assist technology. Limited trims get upgraded interior materials, a larger infotainment touchscreen, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability. It also offers 20-inch aluminum wheels and convenience features, keyless entry, and a power rear liftgate.

Safety technology is what the Subaru brand is known for. Ascent gets standard automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, reverse auto braking, blind-spot detection, rear-cross traffic alert, and a rear vision camera.

This Ascent Limited tester came with the second-row captain's chairs, and the 7-passenger technology package ($2,950) adding a Harman Kardon audio system, panoramic sunroof, Starlink 8.0-inch multimedia navigation, and rear cargo cover. Total MSRP including destination: $43,305.

2020 Subaru AscentInterior Highlights

Stepping into the cabin of the Ascent Limited reveals an attractive and surprisingly near-luxury level interior. The leather seats are comfortable and the driver's seat offers 10-way power for easy adjustability for any family member. With temperatures still in the 30s in the morning in the Rocky Mountains, we made liber use of the heated seats and heated steering wheel.

The Ascent cabin is full of technology for growing families. It offers Wifi, hands-free phone connectivity, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, 2 USB charge ports up front and four in the rear for the kids. Our rear passengers this week could control the temperature with its climate control panel.

2020 Subaru Ascent, New Subaru SUV, 3-Row SUV, features, specifications, fuel mileageAscent can be ordered with 7-passenger seating with 2nd-row captains chairs

The captain's chairs offer more room for rear passengers and easy access to the third-row seats. Our passengers commented how much they liked the rear shades and dark tinted windows to keep the sun out as we traveled up I-70 into the mountains to get away from the city.

If you have extra sports or camping gear to carry, Ascent can hold up to 86.5 cubic feet of cargo when you fold down its second- and third-row seats. The power rear liftgate came in handy as we loaded extra groceries in the back this week.

Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs

The 2020 Subaru Ascent is powered by an all-new FA24 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine developed just for the new 3-Row family hauler. It comes with 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Models equipped with 20” wheels achieve an EPA estimated fuel economy of 20/26 city/highway mpg and 22 combined mpg. The tow rating is also increased to 5,000 pounds for Limited trim models for families wanting to pull a camper, boat or small utility trailer.

2020 Subaru AscentDriving Dynamics

We weren’t surprised at the 2.4-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine’s power in our high-altitude driving, because we drove a tester last year when it first arrived. It’s 260 horsepower and especially 277 lb-ft of torque gets this large SUV moving. We pushed the 3-Row vehicle hard up I-70 heading west into the mountains and had no problem passing and making spirited maneuvers. The Ascent feels sure-footed and the all-wheel-drive offered all-weather capability this week as we had a wet spring snowstorm to hit the area.

We tossed the big vehicle around tight mountain corners, and it left us with a feeling of confidence in its abilities to stay planted even on the icy roads leading to our house. The CVT automatic shifts more like a standard transmission and the continuous winding up like other CVTs was not an issue. Subaru has one of the better ones out there and it helps save fuel.

2020 Subaru Ascent

The ride is comfortable and especially suited to long trips, while sound insulation and the acoustic glass kept the cabin quiet in heavy city traffic this week, but there are some tire and road noise at high speeds. The big SUV comes with 8.7-inches of ground clearance, making this family hauler ideal for active families who want to take the SUV off-pavement. Out tester with its lower center of gravity handled exceptionally well on pavement.

For those wanting to take their SUV off-road, the Ascent comes standard with X-Mode. With a flip of a switch located on the center console, X-Mode will get you out of a sticky situation even if you aren’t taking the vehicle off-pavement. When the wheels begin to slide or slip on ice or deep snow, the average all-wheel-drive vehicle will still get stuck. The Ascent’s X-Mode allows you to keep your foot off the brake and let the system do the work, and you can keep your attention on the road.

The Subaru Ascent Limited checks all the right boxes but one. What would we like the Ascent to have that isn’t offered? A Head-Up Display.


Subaru designed the new 2020 Ascent Limited with growing families in mind with a roomy comfortable cabin, offering plenty of utility, and all-wheel-drive for all-weather performance. This SUV offers additional off-road features you won’t find in other 3-Row vehicles. With standard EyeSight driver assist technology, it offers another level of safety for urban families on the go. Overall, the Subaru Ascent looks to be an ideal pick for a three-row SUV, especially for active families.

You Might Also Like: You Will Feel More Confident Driving the Subaru Ascent After Knowing This

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Melinda Orme (not verified)    April 2, 2020 - 7:53PM

I’ve had my Subaru Ascent for 6 months and have repeatedly had trouble with the battery. I’ve had rough starts several times and a dead battery twice. The service department where I purchased it refuses to deal with it.
The apple carplay also rarely works.

Patricia S Hentges (not verified)    April 3, 2020 - 2:07PM

We've had our Ascent for 6mos now and the one major issue is that the front passenger seat is not fully automated like the driver's seat. My husband is very tall and needs the seat to be much lower to sit there comfortably like he can in the drivers seat. We will have to have an aftermarket shop alter the seat for us, since Subaru doesn't provide any solution to the problem.

Leslie Brown (not verified)    April 3, 2020 - 8:21PM

We purchased our first Subaru, choosing the Ascent for it’s size. We traded in a Buick Enclave. We love the Subaru but at speeds over 55, the steering isn’t steady. After purchase we found out there were 3 recalls on it. Also, the seats have a long way to go compared to a Buick. We wished the seating was more plush with the higher-end models.

Gregory E Mahoski (not verified)    April 6, 2020 - 11:26AM

Have had my Ascent for 1-year, 17,000 miles, previous vehicle was a Buick Enclave. Overall we really like the vehicle but there are a some issues that should be rectified. At interstate speeds there is a "pinging" noise when going over tar strips, not noticeable during the winter, suspect a tire issue. The Touring model should have a 10-way power seat like the driver's side.